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nia, the good and wicked fairies, who, of May by a rustic narrator, was comon the night after the festival, come mitted to paper by an intelligent tradown the chimney to reward or punish veller, who witnessed the festival of the children, and the little folks care- the Maio, at a farm-house near Flofully hang their clothes, with empty rence, and from whose journal I have pockets, round the hearth, that the extracted this May-day adventure. good fairy may fill them with confec- • Tempted by a beautiful springa tionery, and other presents, according morning, I rose early, and quitted to their previous good behaviour. The Florence by the gate of Santa Croce. term Befana is also applied to a very Passing the mills and the fall of the ugly woman, and a frightful phantom Arno, i followed the direction of the is called Befanaccia. Manni, in his his, river, and gazed with delight upon torical notice of the Befana, affirins the fresh and lovely landscape. A that this festival is a relic of the an- vine-covered hill was crowned with cient mysteries, and that it especially small and elegant villas, which stood alludes to the arrival of the Magi. In in relief before the romantic cliffs of fact, the black faces of the rag-dolls, Fiesole, still surmounted with Etrus. which are hung in the windows of can walls, and distinguished by the Florence, on the day of the Epiphany, bold tower which serves as a belfry to resemble the Magi, as pourirayed in the cathedral. pictures of ancient date. The gists “ I now began to observe that the which the children expect to receive fields were without labourers, and that are supposed to be in commemoration every peasant I met was attired in holiof the presents brought by the Magi dayapparel, and proceeding with eager to the Holy Family. This popular step, as if to some scene of festivity, belief is of high antiquity, and in the Walking leisurely onward, I reached house of the Epiphani, otherwise cal. at length a farm-house, before the door led the Befani, ai Florence, a head of of which a young tree had just been one of the royal Magi is preserved in planted. Streamers and knots of rithe repository
bands, adorned with tinsel, were susThe fairies play an important part pended from the branches, and glit. in the popular tales of Tuscany, and tered gaily in the foliage; branches their abodes are still pointed out by with similar adornments, and a crown the people.
of flowers, shaded one of the windows, The hollows of the fairies, called and the air was resounding with the le Buche delle Fate, on the lovely hill matin-music of several peasants. Sude of Fiesole, near Florence, are the ruins denly the bowery window was opened, of subterraneous buildings, and are and three young peasant beauties, fresh supposed to have been the substruc- and brilliant as the morning, appear. tions of an amphitheatre, or of public ed in picturesque costume, and repaid baths. These cavernous places are with graceful smiles the salutations of shown by every child as the abodes of their friends and lovers. This pastofairies, and it was here that Charle- ral scene reminded me that it was the magne is said to have brought rich first of May, and that the antique fes. presents to these elementary spirits. tival of Calendi Maggio was about to Another baunt of fairies is in the be celebrated by these happy dwellers Gonfalina between Florence and Pisa, in the vale of Arno. Soon the rustic where a remarkable rock, called ií minstrels began a lively measure, the Masso delle Fate, and resembling an young people assembled before the immense square tower, inclines to- house, and, joining hands, danced wards another rock of similar confi- with a rapid and bounding movement guration. The intermediate civity round the May-tree, while the older forms a spacious grotto, and has a peasants were busily arranging breakcharacter of romantic seclusion which fast upon a long table under the shade well accords with the popular tradic of a vine trellice which served as a tion. Many curious details of the vestibule to the house. These pleaTuscan fairies are interwoven with the sing groups formed a picture worthy narratives of the rural improvisatori, of Teniers or Bassano, or rather of the some of whom possess no inconsider- more graceful pencil of Paolina Gaufa able degree of erudition. The mar. fier of Florence. Taking out my vellous history of ferragosto and sketch-book, I began to draw the picCalendi-Maggio, as related on the first turesque scene before me, and had
nearly completed my pencil-sketch, ly round the circle, began his recital,
Then expanding his and, in short, everyone hard some favour chest, and deepening his voice, he con- granted, except my youngest sister, tinued: “Dunque io son Ferragos. Mezza Quaresima, who would not ask to !" (Behold me then Ferragosto !) any, and was cruelly punished, as you At these words the excited group be shall hear anon. For my own share, came silent and motionless, and the I requested the fairies to make me children gazed with eager looks, and immorta). Satisfied, however, with a open mouths, upon Ferragosto, who brief existence every year, I begged now threw back his head, elevated his only for a renewal of life during the shoulders to increase his bulk, expand. first week of August, and conditioned ed his arms, and, after looking grave that this period should become a fese
tival, during which my return to earth rupted by frequent applications to his should be annually celebrated by re- wine-flask, threw his gilt crown amidst joicings and banquets. You shall now the crowd of listeners, jumped down hear how 1 terminate my annual ex* from the table, and took leave of his istence. I go at midnight to the abode hosts, to attend his duty as a choof the fairies, whose door is always rister in the next parish. At the same open to me, and there I find a cask of time I quitted the hospitable peasants, wine, the delicious poison of which and accompanied him, followed by takes away my life. I drink and drink long-repeated exclamations from the until I fall asleep, and then. I expire children of “ Viva Ferragosto, Calena in good faith, and very comfortably. di Maggio, e tutti quanti!” On the day appointed for my resusci. As we paced onward together, I tation, the fairies bring me to life again questioned the old improvisatore as to in this manner. They cut open a large, the real origin of the festival of Cafat, well-pickled sow, put me into the lendi Maggio, and the garrulous old inside, and carefully stitch up the ori- man, pleased with the opportunity to fice. Then the fairies apply a melon display his erudition, gave me the fol. to the pig's snout, through which the lowing details. “ 'The story I have grateful odour penetrates to my nos- just related," he began, “is no inventrils. Gradually I return to life; the tion of my own. The materials are sow is again cut open, and 1 jump out borrowed from the historian Buona. of my grave as handsome and lively rotti, and, in the works of the Della as ever.
Crusca academicians will be found the “ My brother Calendi Maggio was source of all the jokes, puns, and pasgifted with music, and ever since, the quinades, which the people make on first of May has been a festival on Ferragosto and his family. Their ada which the Tuscans honour his memo- ventures belong to the tales called Fa. ry by songs and May-trees. My eldest taggine in Italy, and Féeriesin France; sister Befana had the audacity to beg and they deserve a place in the · Bithat she might herself become a fairy, bliothèque bleue.' The name of Ca. and her ambition was gratified on con- lendi Maggio proves the ancient date dition that every year, on the night of of this festival, which is a relic of the thesixth of January, she would fright- old Roman custom of celebrating the en the children by threatening to cut calends of May. The songs composed in two all those who plagued their for this occasion are called Maggionurses, or would not eat their porridge late: the decorated tree, and the branwithout pulling faces. My other sise ches with which our rustic lovers deter, who unwisely rejected the profe corate the windows of their fair ones, fered gifts of the fairies, had soon rea- are called Maio. This annual festi. son to repent; for, had she only asked vity, which is preserved only in rural permission to eat ineat in Lent, she districts, was once celebrated in cities, would have escaped a miserable death. and dignified by songs, dances, and During her pregnancy, she was seized feastings, which lasted several days; at Mid-Lent with an irresistible long for instance, the grand banquet of the ing for a Bologna sausage ; and, to first of May, given in the Portinari pamake bad worse, she devoured it ea- lace, where Dante fell in love. Evi. gerly, and without cooking. This hei- dence of the former prevalence of these nous crime was discovered, betrayed, festivals exists in the numerous magand pronounced unpardonable. My giolate composed by different authors, poor sister was condemned to the dread- and amongst others by the magnififul punishment of being sawn in two, cent Lorenzo de Medici, whose poems and the only remission granted was are not at all worse than those of a the privilege of dying incognita in the common citizen. One of his songs garb of a pun. In memory of this commences thuscatastrophe, and in the Piazza Padella,
Ben venga Maggio the very spot where it took place, the El gonfalon salvaggio: sad spectacle is renewed every year at and in another, he thus alludes to these Mid-Lent, by sawing in two a woode festivities en puppet, which is still called the Mopaca.”
Se tu v appicare un maggio Ferragosto having finished the sto
A qualcuna che tu ami. ry of his family, which he had inter* One of the latest celebrations of this
festival in Florence, was in 1612, when aberrations of a miracle-hunting peoa Maio was planted and sung before ple, which the Romish church neither the Pitti palace, in honour of the Arch- excites nor sanctions; and that the Duchess of Austria.
papal government often checks and “The festival of Ferragosto, which is punishes these ridiculous explosions a relic of the Augustan games, is cele- of vulgar superstition may be proved brated only in the states of Rome and by instances, to one of which I was Tuscany; and the festival of the Fieru. accidentally a witness.- Passing one colone, which is not mentioned in the evening through a narrow street in tale of Ferragosto is of unknown ori- Rome, called La Sabina, I saw before gin. It takes place in Florence on the a recess a tumultuous crowd of people, 7th of September, the day before the intermingled with the papal gensNativity of the Virgin, when the fe- d'armes, who were endeavouring to male peasants of Casentino and the disperse them. Enquiring from an inmountains of Pistoia come to offer up habitant the cause of this agitation, I their prayers before the miraculous heard that the recess had been long image of the Madonna dell'Annon- occupied by an image of the Madonna, ciata. During this festival, the streets which was deemed so unimportant of Florence, and especially those near that few passengers deigned to raise L'Annonciata, present the appearance their hats before her shrine. This of a city given up to fire and plunder. evening, two women conversing in the Crowds of boys run about shaking their recess, accidentally looked at the Mablazing fierucolone, which are torches donna's face, and saw her eyes moving of oiled paper fixed at the end of long with an expression of sadness, somereeds. These noisy urchins pursue times upturned to Heaven, and then cach other with sticks, and the streets down upon the gazers, who fell upon resound with shrill whistles and the their knees, and called out, “ A mi. clangour of pieces of old metal, accom- racle! a miracle !" Immediately the panied by the discordant shouts and neighbours crowded to the spot, the howlings of the populace. There is passengers collected round them, and in this strange festivity a remarkable ihe tale of wonder was rapidly circu. affinity with the game of torches celee lated through every quarter of the brated in ancient days at Athens. The city. Soon, however, the inquisition, players ran about the city with torches, as head of the police, sent the genswhich they transferred to each other, d'armes to the spot, with orders to exwithout pausing in their career; and tinguish the Madonna's two tapers, those who ceased to run, or whose and to disperse the people. This viotorches were extinguished, were hoot. lent interference roused the indignaed at and even beaten by the populace. tion of the credulous Romans, many Lucretius drew from this game a si- of whom, in the true spirit of martyrmile, which he applied to the course dom, allowed themselves to be arreste of human life, and the rapid extinc. ed. tion of successive generations :
To this instance of popular super“ Et quasi cursores, vitæ lampada tra. Madonna is an appropriate appende
stition, the legend of the Pantheon dunt."
age. The now miraculous image of Here the chorister of Belgioso con. Santa Maria della Rotonda had long cluded his dissertation. Webad reach. been inactive and unimportant; but ed the door of his parish church, where one small lamp shone dimly before we exchanged a friendly adieu, and I her altar, which now blazes with the proceeded on the road to Fiesole. light of innumerable tapers; and not
even one votive offering adorned her To gain an accurate knowledge of person, which is now loaded with the devotional superstitions of Italy, hearts, crowns, bracelets, and necka the Protestant traveller must for a time laces. One day the custos of the Pandivest himself of his Protestantism, theon had forgotten to feed the Maor he will be unable to discriminate donna's lamp with oil, and towards between an authorized belief and a evening, after the doors were closed, popular superstition. In my investi- the sacred flame expired. Suddenly gation of these absurdities, I shall the people in the piazza heard from therefore avoid all reference to clerical within the church a loud complaining abuses, and contine myself to those voice call out, “Oglio! Oglio!" The
listeners hastened to the custos; the gaudy painting of his perilous advena doors of the sanctuary were opened, tures. "On Monte Celio, and on the the want of oil was discovered, and spot where once stood the temple of the miracle loudly proclaimed. The the home-guiding Zeus, S. Maria della custos narrowly escaped from the vio- Navicella is now worshipped. Before lence of the crowding worshippers, her small temple Leo X., either as a and on the same night tapers were Christian or a classical enthusiast, aflighted round the altar of the insulted fixed a small marble ship, in token of image, which ever since has healed gratitude for his escape from a storm ; the sick, forgiven sins, and worked all and from the ground beneath fraga sorts of miracles. I collected these ments of antique votive ships have details from the people, but how far been excavated. the miracle was acknowledged by the On the north side of the Palatine Romish church, I could not ascer. Mount, and where, according to tratain.
dition, Romulus and Remus were nouWere the legends of the numerous rished by the she- wolf, stood the images which patronise the provincial temple of the deified Romulus, in cities of Italy investigated, the votive which was the statue of the suckling offerings appended to each would re- wolf. To this temple the mothers of veal miracles surpassing those I have ancient Rome carried their sickly related. These images were doubtless children, and their faith derived heal. originally placed in the churches of ing from their wonder-working hero. Italy as substitutes for the protecting The rotunda of S. Teodoro now occugods of Heathenism. In Rome, the pies the same spot, and the healing miraculous statue of St Peter replaced powers of the heathen have been transthe Jupiter Capitolinus, the bronze of ferred to his Christian substitute, fur which is said to have furnished mate- here only do the Roman mothers pray rials for the image of the Christian for the convalescence of their sick saint ; although Zoega, the Swede, children, as in ancient days their proone of the most acute and learned of genitors prayed to the founder of their modern antiquarians, asserts that the city. image of St Peter is the antique statue The Pantheon, once the temple of of an anonymous Roman senator. all the gods, was converted into a
Most of the churches of modern temple of all the martyrs, by Pope Rome were built upon the founda- Boniface, who interred twenty-eight tions of ancient temples ; in like man. loads of relics under the high altar. ner, Catholic observances were grafted The bronze rosettes of the dome were upon old Roman superstitions, and melted by the Barberini Pope, Urban statues of Jupiter and Venus required VIII., who recast them into cannon, only the substitution of new heads to into decorations for his tomb, and into become objects of Christian veneration the Baldachin of St Peter's. In mo. as saints and Madonnas. Of these dern times, this magnificent rotunda various adoptions Rome supplies abun, has been metamorphosed into a temple dant examples. Where, for instance, of all the artists' by Canova, whose is the difference between the Votiva wealth and chisel have so thickly peoParies of the ancient and modern Ro- pled the niches with marble poets, mans? Did not models of arms and painters, sculptors, architects, and legs, with records of their cure, once musicians, that he has hardly left hang upon the walls of the Temple of room cnough for his own bust. Esculapius, on the Tiber island, as In ancient Rome, the consul or they do now near the images of wone prætor touched the heads of manuder-working saints and Nadonnas ? mitted slaves with his rod, in token The heathen Romans, after escape of their release from slavery; and in from shipwreck, hung pictures of the modern Rome, the penitentiary gives tempest, and sometiines also their sea- a similar tap with a stick to the penidrenched apparel in the temple of tent after confession, and thereby reNeptune, or made the votive offering leases him from the bondage of sin. of a ininiature marble galley to Jupi. On the first of May, the Roman ter Redux. Now the returning tra children place upon a chair before the veller offers to S. Rocco, or to S. An- house-door a puppet of the Madonna, tonio Abbate, or to some Madonna, a crowned with a girland. Every pase,